Luckily for music fans, there are so many hip hop and rap movie gems. Read the list to discover classic, new, and the best hip hop movies.
Hip hop presents a style of music and a lifestyle that makes for great movies. From humble beginnings and a hard life on the streets to living it up lavishly in the midst of success, many stories surrounding hip hop artists captivate audiences around the world.
There’s no shortage of hip hop movies out there, either. From documentaries to mockumentaries to dramas and comedies, hip hop culture is easily embedded into movies of all genres with all plot points.
So, if you want to immerse yourself in the world of hip hop, where do you start? If you’re looking for the best hip hop movies to watch, look no further. Today, we’re breaking down our top ten hip hop movie favorites so you know where to jump in.
Grab your popcorn and let’s get started!
10. Wild Style (1982)
Wild Style is a 1982 movie directed and produced by Charlie Ahearn.
This is number ten on the list not because it’s our least favorite but because it deserves to be mentioned first. It’s touted as being the first hip hop motion picture ever made.
At first, people mistook Wild Style as a documentary because it features many prominent real-life folks, including a famous New York graffiti artist “Lee” George Quiñones. They weren’t far from the mark, however, as the story features many pioneers of hip hop playing themselves in a scripted story.
Grandmaster Flash, the Cold Crush Brothers, Busy Bee Starski, and Fab Five Freddie all make an appearance in Wild Style.
The plot surrounds New York graffiti artist Zoro and a journalist from uptown named Virginia. It follows them and shows the typical behavior of an early day hip hop artist. B-boying, graffiti, MCing, and turntabling all play a part in Wild Style.
Overall, Wild Style has positive reviews. If you’re looking for a movie that represents the true nature of the early days of hip hop, this is where to start.
9. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005)
Now we’ll move on to something a little different. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is a 2005 film starring rap superstar 50 Cent playing a fictionalized version of himself.
This movie, directed by Jim Sheridan, 50 Cent plays Marcus Greer, also known as Young Caesar. His mother is murdered in a drug deal gone wrong and Marcus is forced to move in with his grandparents. Over time, Marcus dives into the world of drugs himself.
That is until events unfold that allow him to start to live his dream of being a hip hop artist.
While Get Rich or Die Tryin’ may not have the best overall reception, it’s still a movie worth watching. It’s a great representation of how hard life on the streets can be for many kids from the inner city, and how just one decision can change the outcome of the rest of your life.
50 Cent proves himself as an acting professional despite his inexperience and overall the movie is entertaining. It’s a great movie to add to your lineup of hip hop movies that you can stream now!
8. CB4 (1993)
CB4, starring Chris Rock and directed by Tamra Davis, came out in 1993. It’s a movie about a group of rappers who call themselves CB4 after the block in prison where they were formed.
CB4 is hip hop’s answer to This is Spinal Tap and it closely parodies N.W.A. and other aspects of gangsta rap.
It’s a movie that’s meant to be a comedy. It aims to poke fun at the tropes of gangsta rap, like it’s sexist behavior and over the top feuds between folks in the business.
If you’re in the mood to laugh at some of the more ridiculous aspects of hip hop culture, turn on CB4!
7. Breakin’ (1984)
While Breakin’ may not exclusively be a hip hop movie, it is a movie that is steeped heavily in hip hop culture. It features rich music and breakdancing, an important side culture that goes hand in hand with the early days of hip hop.
Breakin’ is a comedy-drama movie that came out in 1984, directed by Joel Silberg. It’s a solid movie about the challenges that people who participated in an alternative scene faced and how mainstream culture refused for a long time to create space for people different from them.
6. Dope (2015)
If you’re in the mood for a coming of age film that will make you laugh while breaking your heart in all the right places, look no further than Dope.
Dope is a 2005 film directed by Rick Famuyiwa about nerds living in a high-crime neighborhood in California. It’s a story about complicated feelings, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and how one boy’s dreams to become something more can lead to something amazing.
Overall, critics loved Dope. The actors all perform wonderfully, with insightful portrayals that touch on revolutionary.
What makes Dope a great movie to add to a list of hip hop movies is the soundtrack. It features music by Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, and Naughty by Nature. The soundtrack alone is enough to put Dope on the map for the best hip hop movies to watch.
5. Hustle and Flow (2005)
Hustle and Flow is a movie that came out in 2005, directed by Craig Brewer. It’s a movie about a pimp who wants to become a rapper.
After deciding that he wants more from his life, DJay, played by Terrence Howard, tries to make hip hop music.
What follows is a movie about struggling to survive, hustling to make ends meet, and how love can come from the most unexpected of places.
The primary song from Hustle and Flow, “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp”, won the Academy Award for the Best Original Song. It’s hard-hitting and catchy lyrics mixed with a killer beat make this song a great addition to the tone of this movie.
4. Style Wars (1983)
This list would be incomplete without mentioning Style Wars, a 1983 documentary directed by Tony Silver. This documentary takes a look at different aspects of hip hop culture, it’s roots, and how it is intricately linked with things like graffiti and b-boying.
Style Wars takes a hard look at graffiti and young artists. It depicts graffiti as a work of art worthy of praise and the artists that throw graffiti up in such a powerful way, many critics say that it feels as though the film captures their very soul.
Style Wars features interviews from police, graffiti artists from all walks of life, art critics, maintenance workers, and folks on the street. Graffiti and hip hop often go hand in hand, so if you want to learn more about this aspect of hip hop culture, watch Style Wars as soon as you can!
3. Juice (1992)
Juice is a 1992 film starring Tupac Shakur. As if this hip hop megastar wasn’t enough to land Juice on this list of the best hip hop movies of all time, the film sets itself apart as a hip hop classic.
Juice is about four young black men who grow up in Harlem. It touches on how their struggles with police, rival gangs, and their families shape their decisions and how they interact with the world.
The movie was filmed in Harlem and the setting just adds to the overall feel of the movie. It’s easily one of the best hip hop movies of all time.
2. 8 Mile (2002)
8 Mile is arguably one of the most famous hip hop movies of all time. It stars rap legend Eminem as a fictionalized version of himself growing up in 8 Mile. The film is notable because it shows the struggle of one of the first serious white rappers.
8 Mile took home an Academy Award for the best original song “Lose It” and received critical acclaim.
Something about megastar Eminem, alongside Mekhi Phifer and the late Brittany Murphy, make this movie a standout for audiences around the world.
1. Straight Outta Compton (2015)
We would be remiss if we didn’t put Straight Outta Compton at the top of this list. In creating this movie, N.W.A. members came together to create something that would tell their story. And while in some instances many fans felt as though there was a lot of omission on the part of the members, it’s still a movie that holds true to the origin story that it’s telling.
O’Shea Jackson, Ice Cube’s real-life son, plays Ice Cube in a performance that is so close to reality it can be considered chilling.
If you want to dig into the history of one of hip hop’s best-known groups, this is the place to start.
Hip Hop Movies Through the Ages
Hip hop movies have proven time and time again to be enough to capture the attention of audiences around the world. There’s something that everyone can relate to in each one of these stories, no matter where we come from or how we got to where we are today.
These are movies that every hip hop fan should check out. If you haven’t seen them yet, get streaming!
If you love hip hop and want to keep up to date on all the latest info, check back soon for more!